Category Archives: Young Careerists

I’m BACK…OR 5 Lessons I’ve Learned as an Account Coordinator

Hey there! Did you miss me? You probs did, it’s ok to admit it. I missed you too. But, we need to get down to business: where have I been? Still working as an AC here in New York (which is freezing, BTW).

So, on to what’s really real about this blog post: what have I learned as Account Coordinator? Well, sit yourself down and I will tell you a thing:

  1. I cannot stress how important ORGANIZATION is: Seriously, you guys, organization is something I struggle with every day and when I was in university or reading blogs and they kept talking about organization I was like, “OMG who cares?” but like, everybody cares. And once you’re on 3 (or more) accounts, juggling agendas, reports, coverage, and pitching and securing opportunities? You’ll care, too.
  2. Take ownership of your tasks: What does this mean? Well, let’s say that you are in charge of ALL client agendas (which you probably will be), make them yours. Let your team know that you’ve got them and rock those agendas. The further up you move, the more you will have to take OWNERSHIP of things, so learn this now.
  3. Volunteer to take on additional projects, but don’t take on more than you can handle: Hey, I get it, you want to show people that you are proactive and up for a challenge. BUT if it gets in the way of doing your assigned duties, it kind of negates the desired effect. Make sure you have your job down and then reach for another project
  4. It is OK to be lost/stuck/overwhelmed/whatever: This is a tough business, and contrary to what Kelli Cutrone says, you can always be tough and not ask for help. ASK FOR HELP. Wait, let me repeat that: ASK FOR HELP. If your day is too packed, you don’t know where to start on a new project or you are just plum on your last string, then ask. Let it be known that you need more support. Because keeping your mouth closed won’t help in the end, trust me
  5. The biggest lesson I learned? Don’t every give up! Can I be honest with you? December was a very rough month for me; lots of client expectations, lots of long hours and I honestly felt like I was at the end of my rope. But I was honest with my supervisors and asked for additional support, and at the end of the day I pushed through and did not just throw my hands up. It will get better, I promise!

Well, that’s it in what seems to be the LONGEST post ever -_- Have you learned any lessons in your tenure at your new job? Let me know!

In other exciting news, I am going to sit down and write a few posts on landing your first PR job, because well, I guess I’ve done it and may know a thing or two…look out for it!

XOXO,

Jess_AsPRing

The Senior Chronicles, Part IV: Cover letter help via #Resuchat

Hey peeps! I’m sorry we had to move The Senior Chronicles back a day, but with everything going on in my life and then the Boston tragedy, I didn’t want to post. But today, I’ve got a treat for you: a little over a week ago, I participated in a TwitterChat hosted by Jackalope Jobs, a social-charged job hunting site (go check it out!!!). The chat was all about nailing your cover letter and asked a very important question: Should entry-level cover letters look different from their more experienced counterparts?

The short answer? No. Well, not really…I can’t explain, so let’s get down to what I learned and what hopefully you can learn to!

  1. Question 1: Should entry-level cover letters differ from other professional cover letters?
    1. @CreativeCLs: Yes and no. You don’t have much work experience, so focus on yr potential. But should still be professional yet conversational #resuchat
    2. @TomBolt : Probably not. I’ll be in a minority on that opinion, but the cover letter won’t fix qualifications that aren’t there. #ResuChat
  2. Question 2: What are some elements that must be included? What can be left out?
    1. @Hourly: Include how you can benefit a company. Exclude any repetitions of your resume. #resuchat
    2. @AllThingsBiz: Your value proposition–what makes you different from the other candidates and how can you make a difference at the company? #resuchat
    3. @MikePetras: Cover letters can smooth over gaps in employment or 2 many job changes. Here is a list of probs: bit.ly/brFZK0 #ResuChat
  3. Question 3: What’s the optimum length of an entry-level cover letter?
    1. @TomBolt: Three paragraphs. Not pages and pages. Middle paragraph can be bulleted to show key matches to specs. #ResuChat
    2. @sparkhire: A paragraph or two short paragraphs. Short and sweet, but make it count. #HR has to read a lot these things. #Resuchat
  4. What are some differences between cover letter and resume content?
    1. @ComeRecommended: Resumes showcase your experience. Cover letters illustrate your accomplishments and why you would be an asset. #ResuChat
    2. @MikePetras: Resume = skills, education, accomplishments. Cover letter = why u r a fit & what makes u diff than any other candidate #ResuChat
  5. What are some creative entry-level cover letters you’ve seen?
    1. @kavita1010: #Vine cover letter (link here!)She just got a job! #ResuChat
    2. @ComeRecommended: Writing the cover letter to fit the lyrics of a popular song. #resuchat

That was pretty much it (okay, there was ALOT more, but these were my favorite) and I learned a lot, such as: my cover letter should be short, it needs to bring the emotion where my resume cannot and it’s a chance for me to qualify my experience and tell them WHY they should hire me. Finally, these were 3 pieces of info I really liked and wanted to leave you with:
@TomBolt : Cover ltrs should be in the “T-Cover” format 1) Intro: Tell em why you are writing 2) tell em how you are qualified 3) closing
@Hourly: Include your personality. Don’t be a robot! #resuchat
@bob_firestone: Unlike resumes, Cover Letters let you build EMOTION then backfill with logic/metrics of success/social proof. #resuchat

#ResuChat runs every other Tuesday at 9 PM, EST…so check it out! It was very informative and I learned a lot from all the participants!

That’s it for me, until next time!

XOXOXO,
Jess_AsPRing

The Senior Chronicles, Part III: The Perfect Entry-Level Résumé

Hey there peeps, have I got a treat for you! Today we are going to be talking about the one document that can make or break your career: the résumé.  A résumé is the meat of the “career packet sandwich”: it doesn’t matter how great your portfolio is, how well-polished and personalized your cover letter is or how great you interact with the agency on Twitter, if your résumé doesn’t put foreward the best picture of you? It’s a done deal. Luckily for you, I have called in the big guns to give us some help: Jessica H. Hernandez is the founder and CEO of Great Resumes Fast, an online résumé consultancy that delivers brilliant résumés for all industries at all levels, at a very reasonable price. Additionally, Jessica (who has a fantastic name, if I do say so myself) is a nationally-recognized résumé expert, appearing in International Business TimesMSN.comMonster.com, etc. Basically, her advice is golden and I’ve got the exclusive scoop for you in 5…4…3..2…

  1. Should an entry-level resume be in chronological order or in order of most relevant experience? How much of our past experience should we include? It really depends on each job seeker’s job search goals but 99% of the time you always want to include the most relevant information in the top portion of the resume and then follow it with a chronological listing of your previous experience. Additionally, you should include up to ten years of past work experience but most entry level job seekers won’t have that long of a work history. So include what you do have at the time.
  2. Please make or break a myth for us: should our entry-level resume only be one page? Most entry-level resumes are only one page because of limited work history not because of a resume rule that stipulates it should only be one page. There is no rule that your resume has to stick to one page.
  3. What are some good tips for what to put on an entry-level resume that does not have much experience? You can include relevant coursework, internships, volunteer experience, and relevant extracurricular activities if they are professional and would help you in finding a job.
  4. How do we highlight our strengths against more experienced (ie, a few years out of school, etc.) competitors? Always emphasize your relevant experience and expertise. Speak to the needs of the employer. How has your past experience equipped you to successfully tackle the challenges that this employer is facing? If you can prove that you can overcome their obstacles you’ve suddenly positioned yourself as the most desirable candidate.
  5. How will social media and personal branding play into our resumes? How much weight should we, as entry-level job seekers, put into it? If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile you need to get one. It’s the number one way recruiters are finding candidates – even entry level ones! You should always seek to “brand” yourself. Even if you have very little actual work experience you still have gifts, talents, and skills that are marketable to employers and that make you unique and unlike any other candidate. Focus on marketing those.

Well, you heard it hear first people: “one-page résumé only” is a total myth and you need to get on Linkedin, ASAP. Jessica is a great resource and you can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. She’s a great resource and regularly publishes great info and articles. I’m known to be pretty helpful, myself 😉 so don’t forget to connect with me!

The next Senior Chronicles will deal with social media and your résumé, how much is too much? Should you put your Twitter on your résumé? We’ll answer all of these q’s and more!

Until next time!

XOXOXO, Jess_AsPRing

Sunday Special: “Do I need agency experience?”

Happy Sunday! How are you? I’m cool, on Spring break, shooting the breeze, in NEW YORK CITY!!!!

Bam.

Anyway, I was recently poking around a few Linkedin groups for entry-level PR pros (way to spend a Spring break, huh?) and I saw a question that really interested me: should I go for agency experience after I graduate? I thought long and hard about this and did a lot of google searches and I wanted to tip in my 2 cents:

Yes, I think agency experience is a good thing, and here are a few reasons why:

  1. In an agency, you are exposed to a wider variety of clients and accounts, you can get your feet wet across a few industries and see what you like best. Very few of us know where we want to be straight out of college (I know I don’t!) and an agency, while usually sticking to one industry (say lifestyle, tech or health care) will have different segments within that industry. So you work at a healthcare agency; one of your clients may be a hospital, another may be a catheter supplier (I’m sorry one of the adverts just came on) and another may be a health watch-dog group! See? You are really getting exposed to a lot of different clients and exposure is good!
  2. You gain skills and experience. Fast. Like really, really fast. If you have ever stepped foot in an agency, I’m sure you’ve noticed how fast-paced it is, personally, that’s the reason I love PR as much as I do. When you start as an AC (account coordinator) in an agency, you are thrown right in the lion’s den. Accounts need working and you need to hit the ground running. Those first few weeks/months/years are like on the job paid training; you will learn a lot and your writing, skill set, communication skills, etc. will flourish. An agency will really sharpen you into a fine PR weapon…like an AK-47, that writes press releases (and isn’t endorsed by the NRA).
  3. Not very many in-house positions are made for entry-level pros. The fact is, if you look around at in-house position announcements, they ask for 2-3 years of agency experience. So chances are, unless you know somebody or you get a big break, then you’ll need that agency experience before you can start looking for in-house positions. Like the previous point I made, companies are looking for people who have been in the PR “battlefield” AKA the agency, these people are experienced, trained and talented (most of the time) and can get the job done. So if in-house is your ultimate destination, an agency for the 1st year or 2 is probably your best bet.

This isn’t to say we will ALL end up at an agency; some of us will go the non-profit route, or the public affairs route, or the start-up route or one of you will be the one to find the unicorn: an entry-level position at a company for PR. Either way, you’ve got choices, but I think an agency is a good choice to  think about.

Until next time LIVE FROM NEW YORK CITY IT’S SATURDAY NIG–

Just joking….

XOXOXO, Jess AsPRing

Senioritis: 5 Tips to Get YOU Through the Home Stretch

Hey all, when was the last time I wrote? IDK, I’ve been super busy with the internship and school and being sick (bleh. I know, right?).

Today isn’t about PR, per say…it’s about something A LOT of us are going through at the moment: Senioritis.

Senioritis, a serious condition

Many of us are nearing the end of our college careers; we are entering our last semesters (or quarters, in my case) and applying for graduation and fighting to show up because: we’re almost done. If you’re anything like me, you weren’t too fond of going to class in the first (a little something I called “freshmanitis”) place, so this “light at the end of the tunnel” business isn’t making it any easier. BUT I know that these last 6 months are very important to me: I need to be making contacts and networking and polishing my resume and kicking butt in school AND in my internship. So I’ve listed 5 tips that I have personally been utilizing to help me get through the stretch:

  1. Write it down: I think I really am becoming a senior (as in AARP card senior, not just graduating) because it is getting harder and harder to simply remember information told to me or that I read. I have taken to carrying around small notebooks with my everywhere and making voice notes on my iPhone. I can’t afford to slip up this late in the game, so I have to write everything down just to keep it straight.
  2. Keep a datebook: I am a little old-fashioned, I love the little leather-bound date books, getting a new one at the beginning of every year is heaven; all blank and full of possibility. Until I look over and realize it’s October and the only thing I’ve written down in the book is my mum’s birthday (on the wrong day, no less). I try to have my life planned out a week to 2 weeks in advance these days, because I have a lot of obligations and keeping appointments in my datebook helps me stay on time and prepared.
  3. Know when to take a break: Hey, it’s okay to let off some steam! Now is NOT the time to freak out and shut down, you are about to be thrust into the “real world” buddy and there AIN’T no summer break (sucks, right?), so you need to start teaching yourself to know when you need to take a step back. You are good to no one if you’re burned out and overwhelmed. Chilax a little; take a walk, write in a journal, play ultimate frisbee (eww.)- just whatever it takes to get you centered.
  4. Don’t get lazy: This is not the time to pat yourself on the back for a job well done, getting your degree and all. This is the “prime time, grind time” (liked that? I knew you would) because sweetheart, you’re gonna need a job and this is the time to start looking for one. Put out feelers, ask your professors who they know, attend networking events for students and have someone look at your resume. Chances are, this is the resume you’ll go out into the world with, start working on it now and it will be ready later.
  5. Remember, college is just a small part of your life: The average lifespan of an adult (in the US, at least) is 77.1 years old and college was only 4 (maybe 5, or 6…no judgment) years of your life; that’s only 5.18% of your life. TOTAL. So keep in mind that you have the rest of your life, so enjoy these last few months and you won’t regret participating a little more, hanging out with friends, just being a kid. Because after this? It gets real. Trust me.

That’s all I’ve got for you today. For my non-college senior readers: sorry! This was probably really boring and I will get back to more “PR” stuff later. For my seniors (Class of 2013!!!) remember: keep your head down and power through, it will all be over really soon. Until next time!

XOXOXO, Jess_AsPRing

Hump Day Help: Let’s Talk Phone Interviews, 5 tips to Ace Them!

Happy Hump Day my fellow PR peeps! I was recently looking over my blog and I said to myself, “I haven’t been helpful in weeks! All I talk about is ME, ME, ME” and I am not that kind of blogger, so it’s time to get back in gear with some advice.

As you may or may not know, I am finishing up the last 6 months of my university career (thank God) and I am moving to New York City in June. Because PR is such a competitive field, I have already started to reach out and get some interviews, but how am I interviewing from 3,000 miles away? Phone Interviews!!!

Even the dog can do a phone interview!!!

Yes, I have been doing a few phone interviews (I’ve done 3, so far) and they are a little nerve-racking, but I have honed in on some great practices that have gotten me some amazing feedback (and some top notch opportunities). I’ve listed my top 5 tips below, take a look:

  1. Have a “script” beforehand: I put script in quotations because I’m not saying a word-for-word, but make sure you have some key points down that you can reference in case you get nervous. You can bet they are going to ask a few all-time faves, like: what made you get into PR (NOTE: DON’T SAY TO GET FREE STUFF), your favourite PR campaigns at the moment, why you want to work there. Having some of these down beforehand will help you from stumbling on yourself.
  2. Research Research Research: I’m serious you guys, don’t be that entry-level/internship candidate who just wants to work “anywhere” (even though you are and you do), but make sure you know something about the firm: who are their clients? Does this particular office have a specialty practice? Being able to add in these little zingers shows that you are passionate about the firm and what they do.
  3. Let the interviewer speak: I am guilty of this big time. I am so eager to get my point across that I sometimes over talk the interviewer. Let them say a whole sentence and then count to 3 and answer. In a confident and slow voice (but not too slow)
  4. Don’t be bringing up irrelevant $h!t: Yea, I cursed. This is my blog. Anyway, if she/he asks about your experience with press releases, then talk about that, not your 3-legged cat named Hobbles. They are asking these specific questions because it pertains to the specific job you are interviewing for. This is where those scripted notes I told you to make come in handy: you already have all of your info in front of you (having a copy of the resume and cover letter you sent in front of you would be a big help, too)
  5. SEND A THANK YOU. You guys, I’m serious. Thank them FOUR times: at the beginning of the interview, at the end of the interview, via a follow-up e-mail AND a snail mail note. You are showing how polite you are AND by sending the e-mail a bit afterwards, you are refreshing your name in the search. Sending the snail mail refreshes you in the memory a few days later (but no later than 4 days later!)

Well, that’s all I have for today. I know this is kind of late in the day (uh, I do work, people), but you can use this info anytime! Remember, a phone interview might be a little more relaxed, but you still want to be prepared; just breathe, speak slowly and make sure your voice is confident.

XOXOXO, Jess_AsPRing